I simply can’t avoid comparing George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and Bob Ong’s “Alamat ng Gubat”.
Orwell’s novel is about a group of animals who organized some sort of an animal power revolution to kick out their tyrant human master who acted worse than an animal. The farm known as Manor Farm was suddenly changed to Animal Farm, a place for the animals, by the animals and of the animals. Unfortunately, the pigs who were installed as their leaders were gradually humanised and started messing up things and acted like their former tyrant human master. The animals realised that their revolution only resulted to a worse fate for everyone.
Ong’s “Alamat ng Gubat” is similar in a sense that the author used animals as well as an allegory. His story is about a crab named Tong who ventured into the jungle to get the heart of the banana tree that will save his father from dying. This vegetable is magical. Whoever eats it can be healed from any illness and will be granted one wish. In his journey, he discovered that in the jungle many other animals aspire to rule the small jungle kingdom and would do anything to become the new leader in the jungle- from cheating the jungle elections, to insect assassinations, vote buying, flying-voters, bribes, lies and corruption. But despite all the discouraging circumstances, Tong pursued his goal, got the magical vegetable and made a wish that the jungle would become a better place.
Now, let’s put both novels in the ring:
Round 1- Both novels are allegories of the society and realities to which both authors witnessed in their lifetime. Orwell’s novel is more profound in meaning and was very specific in dealing with the issues of his day. Ong deals with the inherent negative aspects of the Filipino political culture but not as profound as that of Orwell. 1 point for Orwell.
Round 2- Orwell’s fable is able to communicate in the simplest way how dictatorships come and go, and the moral of the lesson is easily learned most people. With Ong’s fable it’s quite hard to connect the situations and elements to the real world but the moral of the story is easily grasped because of his use of colloquial Filipino. Not only it can be understood by many, but it is really a thing for the masa, a book where the poor and rich, the dumb and the wise can find a common ground. One point for Ong.
Round 3- Many individuals and groups of people are represented in Orwell’s story giving a clear picture of the situation. Plus, the way he picture those who are in power as pigs is simply the best thing a man can do to assassinate the character of those powerful slobs in the government. One point for Orwell.
Round 4- Ong’s characters in “Alamat ng Gubat” have a feisty humour and they have an attitude with what they’re doing. Plus the twist of the story was more than shocking and hilarious, it was simply impressive and witty. One point for Ong.
Round 5- Orwell gives us a picture of a dystopia and bitter reality. Ong gives a positive outlook in the future and makes a wishful thinking of a utopia for Filipinos. I say we’ve had enough troubles right now. We need someone who will encourage us and give us hope no matter what’s going on around us. Another point for Ong.
Round 6- Since we started this Writer Death Match, Orwell was already dead. And besides, I just love the cover and the illustrations of Ong’s book. It’s full of witty remarks. I also believe that it wasn’t even his intention to make a profound statement. He simply published a children’s fable written for adults, nothing more, nothing less. We just make a big deal about everything! And that’s the genius of Ong!
Bob Ong wins!